As part of an event to mark LGBTQ+ History Month, the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Ryan Murphy, welcomed representatives of local community organisations to Belfast City Hall on Tuesday, February 6, 2024, for the launch of the LGBTQIA+ Heritage Project.
At the event, it was also announced that the exciting new three-year project has been awarded a grant of £337,131 by The National Lottery through the Heritage Fund.
The new LGBTQIA+ Heritage Project is a collaboration between HERe NI, Cara-Friend, and The Rainbow Project, and it aims to deliver an exciting new programme that will capture, preserve, and share local LGBTQ+ history.
The primary focus of the three-year initiative will be to review the period between the introduction of Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act in 1998 – which outlines that all government and public authorities must implement equality in both policy-making and service delivery – to the present day. Within this, it will record and document the history surrounding the campaign for equality.
According to the LGBTQIA+ Heritage Project, the personal history around these legislative changes is broadly unrecorded. The group aims to preserve these histories through a series of activities, including the creation of an online archive, a podcast, a heritage trail, the formation of an LGBTQ+ film club, and a history club.
Speaking at the launch, Cara McCann, Director of HERe NI, said: “For many years our heritage has not been recorded by LGBTQIA+ people. This is an exciting opportunity for members of the LGBTQIA+ community to be part of something special and to tell their untold stories.
She continued, “This project is community-led and community-implemented. The benefits from participating in a project like this range from increased positive health and well-being and employability skills.”
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Scott Cuthbertson, Director of The Rainbow Project, echoed McCann’s call for recovering LGBTQ+ history. “For all our lives, our history as LGBTQIA+ people has been obscured and hidden. The launch of the LGBTQIA+ Heritage Project is the beginning of changing that, and what better time to do so than LGBT History Month?”
He added, “The Rainbow Project is proud to be a part of this project and looks forward to the many hidden histories it uncovers.”
Adam Murray, Community Development Manager from Cara-Friend, shared his organisation’s enthusiasm for the initiative. “Cara-Friend is delighted to partner with our colleagues at Here NI and The Rainbow Project on the LGBTQIA+ Heritage Project. We look forward to the next three years as the project continues to explore and utilise the rich history of the LGBTQIA+ community, bringing the stories of LGBTQIA+ life to new audiences in exciting new formats. The huge interest the project is already generating is a testament to how timely and valued it is.”
He concluded by thanking the Heritage Fund for making the project possible.
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